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Unlike the practical needs of a working family, our desire for self-actualization is bottomless, and so when we try to buy it, we buy endlessly.(This topic is fascinating and horrifying, and described in detail in the documentary .) The materiality of the product—what you physically receive from the transaction—is often an afterthought.In the documentary on Netflix, sociology professor Juliet Schor articulated something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.Essentially she said our society is drowning in needless possessions and consumer debt not because we’re too materialistic, but because we’re not materialistic , a preoccupation with buying and consuming goods.
The vehicle was new and probably cost about ,000.
Because most of us have lived our entire lives being sold products based on their symbolic value, we don’t find it that unusual or offensive when the item itself is cheaply put together and doesn’t evoke our respect or gratitude.
Even big expensive things, like my friend’s (briefly) new car, are as plastic and shitty as the customer will tolerate, and we tolerate quite a bit.
It represents nobody’s artistic vision, nobody’s best work.
But it does come with status, and probably a sense of arrival at a particular socioeconomic rung, or stage of adulthood.